The Nevada Department of Transportation in partnership with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada recently opened the first leg of I-11, which allows motorists to travel south of Boulder City to the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman bypass bridge.
A ceremony was held Aug. 9 at the scenic viewpoint above Lake Mead. Following the event, first responders shuttled the first vehicles along the northbound lanes of the new interchange. If you missed out on the festivities, you can take a look here.
The first phase of I-11 construction includes 15 miles of new freeway around the southern perimeter of Boulder City from I-515 (U.S. 95) to U.S. Highway 93. At the eastern end, the project connects to the Hoover Dam Bypass project which was completed in 2010. The Hoover Dam Bypass project included the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial bridge. At the western end, the project connects to the existing I-515 freeway entering the Las Vegas Valley from the south.
The project was constructed in two phases simultaneously. NDOT managed a 3.5 mile segment and the RTC is oversaw a 12-mile segment. In late August, NDOT took over management of the latter segment. The project consists of a four-lane access-controlled freeway with new interchanges at I-11/US 95, I-11/US 93 and a reconfigured interchange at the US 93/State Route 172 Hoover Dam Exit.
Las Vegas and Phoenix are the only two cities in the nation with populations more than one million people that are not currently linked by an interstate. Once constructed, the first phase of Interstate 11 will relieve congestion, improve safety and enhance travel and commerce between Arizona and Nevada. Construction of the project will create and estimated 4,000 direct and indirect and induced jobs in the region.
The Project accomplishes major feats in (1) constructing a scenic view parking area within the Eldorado Mountains overlooking Lake Mead (2) constructing a railroad bridge that reconnects a railway that was severed between Las Vegas and Boulder City (3) connecting two major bicycling routes between City of Henderson and the River Mountain Loop Trail and (4) constructing wildlife crossing to protect the big horn sheep.
Project challenges included excavation of over 8 million cubic yards, installing storm drain pipe to perpetuate flows from monsoon storms, and managing a robust environmental program to protect the natural habitat and workers.
Landscaping and Aesthetics
The steel decorative sculptures attached to a 1,200-foot-long retaining wall on the south side of I-11 pay tribute to the workers and equipment used during the construction of Hoover Dam between 1931 and 1936. The design was decided upon following numerous public meetings involving nearby residents and stakeholders. You can learn about the history behind the décor here.
NDOT is also replanting 20,000 cacti that were displaced during the excavation of the I-11 corridor roadbed. Falling in line with the department's efforts to protect the desert tortoise, five miles of tortoise fencing was installed as well as culverts that provide underpasses for the endangered tortoises.
The project was separated into two phases, shown in the exhibit below. To learn more about the I-11 study, please click here.